Vladimir Volfovich Zhirinovsky was born on April 25, 1946, in the city of Alma-Ata. In 1969, he graduated from Moscow State University (Oriental Languages). His army service (1970-1973) took place in Tbilisi, Georgia. Between 1973 and 1991, Zhirinovsky held a sequence of jobs. First, he worked for the Soviet Committee for Defense of Peace as a reviewer. Then, while working for Injurcollegia, Zhirinovsky graduated from Moscow State University night school to become a lawyer. Later, he held the position of a prorector (vice-president) at the Higher School of the Trade Union Movement. After that, he became Chief of the Legal Service at "Mir" Publishers. Zhirinovsky is married and has a son.
Vladimir Zhirinovsky started his political career in 1988, and quickly went on to become a founder of the Liberal Democratic Party. The first Congress of this party took place in March, 1990. The LDP became the second party officially registered in the USSR. (The first one was the Communist Party of the Soviet Union that got disbanded by Yeltsin in 1991.) The LDP was eventually transformed into the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR).
The stunning success of the LDPR in the December 1993 parliamentary elections lifted its leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky to international fame. He has been a visible contender in the campaign for the elections to the State Duma. Having captured nearly one quarter of the vote in 1993, Zhirinovsky had predicted even greater success for his party in 1995. In fact, his party finished second in the party list vote (11.18%) and won 51 Duma seats (11.33%) in the December, 1995, parliamentary elections, so the LDPR now has the third largest Duma faction (behind the Communist Party of the Russian Federation and Our Home Is Russia).
Zhirinovsky's success in the December 1993 parliamentary elections astonished both Russian and Western observers. Polls had discerned a late surge in support for the LDPR, but the scale of Zhirinovsky's victory was staggering. Although it did not gain an absolute majority in any region of the Russian Federation, the LDPR received more votes than any other party in 64 out of 87 regions (the government of Chechnya refused to hold elections, while an "unofficial" boycott in Tatarstan kept turnout well below the 25% required for valid elections). In Pskov Region, the LDPR won 43% of the vote, with the second-place party ( Yegor Gaidar's Russia's Choice) gaining just 10%. Capturing roughly 23% of the vote nationwide (12.3 million votes in all), the LDPR was allocated 59 out of the 225 State Duma seats chosen from party lists. Although Zhirinovsky's party won only five out of the 225 seats contested in single-member constituencies, its 64 deputies made it the second-largest Duma faction, after Russia's Choice.
Zhirinovsky was not unknown in Russia going into the 1993 campaign. He gained about 6 million votes (7.8%) in the June 1991 presidential elections, finishing third (behind Boris Yeltsin and Nikolai Ryzhkov). Surveys carried out before and shortly after the 1993 elections indicate that support for the LDPR was highest in towns with a population of fewer than 100,000 (where support was estimated at 40%). Zhirinovsky gained about a quarter of the vote in rural areas and cities with up to 1,000,000 residents. Between 1991 and 1993, the fear of unemployment and the uncertainty generated by the collapse of the USSR and the Gaidar economic reforms rose substantially in such areas.